Can't drive 55? Fastest legal section of highway in the U.S to open soon
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 21:41:37 GMT —
Sammy Hagar sang "I can't drive, 55"...but a new section of highway in Texas might have him singing a different song.
Earlier this week, construction workers started putting up the signs along a stretch of toll road that will run from Austin to San Antonio, Texas. The posted speed limit will be 85 miles per hour.
The 41 mile stretch of the new toll road will have the fastest posted speed limit in the country when it opens in November.
Russ Rader, a spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety told NBC News, "The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up," He said higher speed limits get people to their destinations faster, "but the trade-off is more crashes and more highway deaths."
A 2009 report in the American Journal of Public Health studied traffic fatalities in the U.S. from 1995 to 2005 and found that more than 12,500 deaths were attributable to increases in speed limits on all kinds of roads.
The study also said that rural highways showed a 9.1 percent increase in fatalities on roads where speed limits were raised, but did not cite specific numbers in those instances.
The state contract with the toll operator allows the state to collect a $67 million up-front cash payment or a percentage of the toll profits in the future if the speed limit is 80 mph or lower. At 85 mph, the cash payment balloons to $100 million or a higher percentage of toll revenues.
Chris Lippincott, spokesman for SH 130 Concession Co. that is building the road, said the company is committed to operating a safe highway.
"On any road, drivers hold the key to safety based on traffic, travel conditions and the capabilities of their own vehicles," Lippincott said.
Should the Ohio Turnpike consider going up to an 85 mph speed limit? Do you think higher speeds would lead to less safe roadways?